While a slim majority (5-4) of Milton councillors rejected a motion late last summer from Ward 2 Councillor John Challinor II to direct staff to return to Council with 2021 Operating Budget packages containing 1, 2 and 3 percent tax hike options, Town staff eventually came back to Council with a 3.93% tax increase package that was unanimously supported by all.
Ward 2 Regional Councillor Rick Malboeuf had seconded Challinor’s motion last summer. Mr. Challinor and Mr. Malboeuf moved and seconded the final 2021 Operating and Capital budgets.
The impact of the Town’s 2021 Budget on the average Milton taxpayer, whose home is now valued at $669,900, is about $63 next year. When blended with the Regional Municipality of Halton and local school board property tax increases, the net increase is about 2.28 percent or about $98 next year. A slim majority (5-4) had approved Town staff returning to Council with a 2021 Budget increase not exceeding 5 percent.
While Milton’s current property tax leadership across the province of Ontario came as a result of past Councils directing Town staff to return to Council with 0, 1 and 2 percent tax increase options between 1993 and 2006, this did not happen this year, which is highly
unusual in either private sector or public sector operating budget preparations. However, over the fall, Town staff acknowledged the very difficult economic circumstances locally because of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns expressed by many property taxpayers and occasional discussions with Mr. Challinor II and some other councillors on the topic through the fall. Town CAO Andrew Siltala and Town CFO Glen Cowan and their teams deserve much credit for the 2021 Budget settling into the final range it did.
That said, the Town’s 2022 and 2023 operating and capital budgets will be much more difficult to rein in to a level that most property taxpayers can afford because of a combination of very likely declining financial support from the senior levels of government and slowly recovering Town revenues from programs and services that have been under-subscribed (by provincial law) or dormant since March 2020. CR